February 1, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians:
As we begin the second semester, we want to remind our students and parents/guardians regarding updates made this school year to our grading practices and provide context for those who have heard of the changes made and how we arrived at them.
For the past four years, we have been reviewing our grading practices and working to develop a grading system that reflects demonstrated student learning of outcomes in all courses. We have developed curriculum maps that are linked to the essential knowing and doing outcomes of courses. We have also worked to eliminate grading practices that don’t measure growth and achievement.
As a reminder, the changes made this year are much narrower in scope than initially planned in an effort to accommodate pandemic learning. Our focus has been on six specific changes.
- No extra credit. Instead, students can retake a test to demonstrate additional learning.
- An “M” will be used to indicate late or missing work instead of a zero or a lowered score.
- Attendance will not be factored into the grade.
- Groups grades are eliminated (students must be measured for their own learning).
- No class grades will be curved (grades are based on mastery of content rather than in comparison to others in the class).
- No points are awarded for practice. Feedback can and should be given for homework or other kinds of practice/drafts, but no points will be given for practice.
For a more detailed explanation of why those changes were made, we have produced a video that goes into greater depth, and we encourage parents and students to watch it. Please click here to access the video.
At the start of first semester, students and parents were surprised to see only a few grades in the gradebook for summative assessments. At our Institute Day in January, we provided some tools for teachers to break larger summative assessments into smaller chunks that might provide more timely feedback to students. Others will continue to provide that feedback through formative assignments that might be found on Canvas instead of Infinite Campus. While it might seem unusual to see only a few official grades in the gradebook early in a semester, the first few weeks are still a time of practice and initial learning, so there are fewer grades. For major concepts, it would be unfair to grade students on skills early in the semester that have not been taught yet or that they have not had enough time to practice and demonstrate understanding. Some students, following an initial attempt at a summative assessment, will do additional learning and then retake that assessment, which will likely increase learning.
To help parents and students understand where they stand in the classes, we have asked teachers to make sure that all grades and assignments are included in Infinite Campus, even if the bulk of the feedback to the student remains in Canvas. When we use the term “formative assessments” we mean opportunities for students to practice and apply their learning so they can get feedback from the teacher. Formative assessments lead to summative assessments, which are traditional tests, projects, papers, lab reports, quizzes, performances, speeches, or anything that is used to measure accumulated learning. Summative assessments can be retaken. Teachers will share what needs to happen in order for a retake to occur. Summative grades (the grades that “count” in the gradebook) are only given after instruction, practice, review, and feedback from teachers as well as opportunities for revision.
If you have any questions about a grade in a specific course, please reach out to the teacher. As for the remainder of the semester, every aspect of teaching and learning has taken on new challenges this school year and these challenges will likely continue for the near future. We want to make sure the grading system gives students the benefit of the doubt, and allows for multiple ways to demonstrate learning.
Scott Eggerding, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Brian Waterman, Principal
Katherine Smith, Coordinator of Assessment and Research